Dr. Conor Bell is excited to join Middle Tennessee State University as Assistant Professor of Bassoon and Academic Studies in Fall of 2022!
Dr. Bell is a passionate chamber musician, currently performing with the Elicio Winds—a flute, oboe, bassoon trio—and is a founding member of the Æther reed quintet. Recent chamber performances include the College Music Society National Conference, the International Double Reed Society Conference, the National Flute Association Conference, and many community outreach concerts at various venues throughout the South.
Conor is also an active orchestral musician, having served as Principal Bassoon of the Owensboro Symphony since 2016, and as Second Bassoon of the LaGrange Symphony since 2021, in addition to appearances as a substitute bassoonist with ensembles throughout the Midwest and the South.
As a performer, Conor is particularly interested in new music, championing the works of living composers and pursuing opportunities to commission new works, especially as a means to promote pieces by artists from under-represented backgrounds. He has more than two dozen premieres to his name, many of which came about by commission or consortium. A recent project by the Elicio Winds saw the commission and premiere of five new interdisciplinary works for the ensemble by Shawn Okpebholo, Joshua Burel, Margi Griebling-Haigh, Timothy Hagen, and Craig Michael Davis. Additionally, Conor and his wife—oboist Kathleen Carter Bell—were awarded one of three commissioning grants by the International Double Reed Society to commission a new trio for double reeds and piano by Afro-British composer Althea Talbot-Howard to be premiered at IDRS 2022.
With his bassoon students, Dr. Bell strives to tailor his instruction to each student’s individual needs and interests while developing solid fundamentals which enable students to express their musical ideas without hindrance. Knowledge gained in music theory and history classes is synthesized in lessons to guide students into forming thoughtful interpretations of their music that is rooted in the structure of the score and the context in which it was written. Conor is the bassoon clinician for Double Talk Workshop, an initiative for music educators. The clinic focuses on giving ensemble directors hands on time playing double reed instruments and providing resources and experience to lead their students to greater success.
Conor holds a doctorate and master’s degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, with minors in music theory and arts administration. His dissertation, titled “David Maslanka and his works for the bassoon,” explores the life and compositional process of American composer David Maslanka, and provides performer’s guides to his solo works for the bassoon. Conor attended West Texas A&M University for his undergraduate education. He is fortunate to have studied with many wonderful teachers, including William Ludwig, Kathleen McLean, Tina Carpenter, and Christopher Millard.
Photo by Kathleen Carter Bell